Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friendships

I've been doing a lot of reflection lately on a lot of things. That reflection has led me to have more patience and understanding at home, the motivation to get up every morning and exercise, and also allowed me to be more consistent in my eating habits. I've made a concerted effort to make sure I take the time and talk to God every morning and say a prayer while I'm on my walks. I'm working to be a more neat person and try to be less of the cluttered person you all know and love They're small changes, but the ultimate goal is to become a better me.

One thing that has come prominent in my mind recently is the need we all have as humans to find and maintain friendships. I have been blessed with what some would and could consider many friends who run the gambit as far as who they are and what they mean to me. I have friends that I share with Steve, and I have friends who are independent of my marriage. I have friends who I haven't seen in a year or more (well... other than a quick "Hi!" at our wedding) but I know if I saw them tomorrow for coffee we could talk for hours like there had been no time since the last visit. I have close friends from college, and am fortunate enough to have three girlfriends that I've been close to for 13 years or more. I have friends who I'm developing my relationship with that I've met only within the last year or so. All of my friends are people from all different walks of life, and they have all sorts of beliefs and differences in what they value.

On the downside to friendships, there are several people out there who were once my friends that for one reason or another I don't see or talk to anymore. Some of these are the result of a past injury, some are the result of natural drifting, and some are the result of a physical move. Even though I don't see these people anymore, they have each touched my life in a great way when we did cross paths and in some cases I have learned great lessons from them. One person in particular I can think of taught me the power of being able to forgive someone and how releasing it can be. Now... believe me - that person probably doesn't know that I learned that from that person, but I did.

I have had friends whose friendships I value very deeply that have taught me (again, without even realizing it) that the way to handle something when you're concerned with their well-being is NOT to vent about it to other people. On the same token, the way to handle a concern about whether or not your friends value YOUR well-being is not to vent about it to other people either. I've learned (and... I'm not at all good at this in practice yet, but I'm getting there) that the way to handle either of those things is to address that person privately, calmly, and in the concerned fashion that you're actually experiencing. I have friends who have taught me things so simple as making sure to always carry Advil and a Shout Wipe in your purse in addition to the deeper things I've learned. There's never been someone who I have considered a friend who I did not learn from them and grow from our relationship.

Friendships need to experience balance. Let's take a really bad analogy for a second, and I ask you all to bear with me. If life is an ocean, and friendship is a ship, the ship needs to be built strong enough to weather the storms as well as have the space to enjoy the gorgeous days. If the ship has holes that haven't been fixed, then it will inevitably sink. The ocean will either leak in slowly and overtake it or it will completely bust open a seam where the hole is. The people on the ship need to be sure to take care of the ship over time - both in the short term and in the long term. The people on the ship also need to realize that taking care of a ship is WAY too much work for one person, and both people need to be taking equal share of the work in order for the ship to survive the things the ocean has to offer.

Wow... that was a better analogy than I thought.

At any rate... that all said, how does one take the things they've learned and apply it to friendships that already exist that may need some nurturing? How does one take the things they've learned and express them in friendships that may be strong already without coming across as annoying and smothering? How does one take the things they've learned and use them to build new friendships that may be blossoming? And what if the worst happens - how do you recover from a friendship that either is completely broken and detached, or is slowly drifting either from natural life change or a physical shift in location?

We can't survive without true friendships. I think that's the ultimate conclusion I've come to. Sure, your spouse or significant other may be your best friend... but even your best friend doesn't fill every need. How can I be the most to my friends that I can be, and be a great shipmate on the ocean of life?

These are the questions that I'm working out in my own reflections as I look at my friendships that fall into all three of these categories. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts either via email or in my comments section. It's a huge topic that touches EVERYONE, so please do let me know your thoughts.
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Current Music: Blue October, "Into the Ocean"

3 comments:

Kstar said...

Very thoughtful and interesting entry today.... Its something I think we take for granted (I know I do) and the analogy was a great way to put it.

KiKi said...

I use this website a lot of organizational and housecleaning tips and motivation and wanted to share it with you:

http://www.flylady.net/

It's kind of funny the little steps and stuff, but it helps to kind of change your mindset about cleaning, and doing one step at a time has been helpful!

I like it....a lot of the Nestie's swear by it!

Anonymous said...

I think a good way to maintain friendships is to go applepicking in October. It's not quite the same a smaking out with Brad Pitt and then driving off a cliff, but I am sure it will work fo rus! :-)